Harvard Kennedy School Puts the Focus on Public Service

October 27, 2009
by Doug Gavel

The choice to serve the public good is one that is embedded in the mission of Harvard Kennedy School. It is core to the school’s teaching, research and outreach efforts, and it is what attracts students from around the world to come here to study.

Public Service Week at Harvard (Oct. 19-25) provided a unique opportunity to showcase the school’s commitment to the ideals of service with a series of special programs, Forums, workshops, seminars and student outreach efforts. Highlights included a public address delivered by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and a Day of Service, which brought dozens of students and staff members to area parks.

“The choice [to enter public service] is at the heart of what the Harvard Kennedy School is all about,” said Harvard President Drew Faust, who spoke at a John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum event. “Ask what you can do. Ask what you can give. Ask what you can contribute. Ask how you can be a part of the larger public service mission.”

Gov. Patrick challenged students to use their talents and their passions to serve the public good.

“Service stirs us. It brings meaning and purpose to our lives…[yet] only a fool would say it’s easy,” Patrick said.

Investor and philanthropist George Soros participated in a roundtable discussion hosted by the Hauser Center for Non-Profit Organizations, telling students that although “there is a contradiction between feeling good and doing good and that is a fundamental flaw…the key is to put your public interest ahead of your personal interest.”

The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, the Institute of Politics, the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston and the Taubman Center for State and Local Government also sponsored events relating to the public service theme. But Dean David T. Ellwood joked at one event that the week’s busy calendar didn’t seem all that different from typical weeks at the Kennedy School.

“And I think that’s a good thing,” Ellwood said.

Deval Patrick.

Gov. Deval Patrick '78, J.D. '82, shared his experience in both public service and the public spotlight during a forum at the Harvard Kennedy School. Photo credit Jon Chase, Harvard News Office.

“The choice [to enter public service] is at the heart of what the Harvard Kennedy School is all about.” - Harvard President Drew Faust, who spoke at a John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum event.

Carr Center Forum

Rory Stewart, director for the Carr Center, and Samantha Power, the Carr Center’s founding executive director. Photo credit Justin Ide, Harvard News Office.


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